I have been waiting for Asiana Noodle Shop to open and look forward to my first meal [Taste Test, January 14]. Can’t wait to check it out.
While many people didn’t care for Peter Freyne [“End of the Line,” January 14], and while I certainly didn’t agree with everything he said, Vermont and the journalistic community have lost both a rare and welcomed voice. In past years, tending bar part time for fun at Esox, I poured many a drink for Peter and listened to many a tale. I also spent a fair amount of time on the other side of the bar, laughing with, listening to, and sometimes arguing with Peter. Many times he was less than tactful, but he always attempted to get people to actually give an answer — as opposed to the norm, which seems to be whatever the most convenient semi-answer is depending on the crowd in attendance. Or, in other words, not answering the question.
We laughed many a time at how readily many voiced their opinion, only to berate Peter for having a different one . . . It is OK to disagree without being disagreeable, and it is unfortunate so many haven’t the ability to subscribe to that. My subsequent years have involved traveling all over the world. Prior to getting sick, Peter regularly called me to inquire about where I’d been, what people there thought about the U.S . . . I will miss Peter, his intellect and his love of Vermont. I am proud to call him my friend. My travels will unfortunately make me miss the celebration of his life, but I will be there in spirit. I hope all will hoist one in his honor. Thank you, Peter. Sleep well, Bud.
(Ed. note: Peter Freyne’s memorial is Thursday, January 29, at Burlington’s Union Station. It starts at 6 p.m.)
RABBIT DON’T RUN
In his December 17 [Free Wheelin’] article about the VW Rabbit, Bob Kilpatrick mentions their “reliability.” While the pre-1960 36hp VWs could well be called reliable, the major failure rate of the 40hp and many later air-cooled engines (among various other chronic troubles) made those models anything but. The Rabbit carried on the tradition of troubles with many electrical and electronic problems, among other things.
In recent years, Volkswagen, like other German makers, has rated highly for design, but very poorly for reliability. Only Chrysler Corp. and the grossly-expensive-to-maintain Mercedes rate lower in Consumer Reports’ chart of design versus reliability.
Also, Bob credits the Rabbit for that particular hatchback design. VW actually copied the Renault 5 (Le Car in the U.S.) — 1972 European Car of the Year. The 1966 Renault 16 (also European Car of the Year) had a similar hatchback design. (The 1938 Citroën had the first hatchback.)
Both these mid-engine front-drive cars received much praise for their extraordinary handling, smooth rides and superior comfort. The R5’s formidable adhesion allowed it to dominate Showroom Stock racing against considerably more powerful competitors.
Despite their continual leadership in design, the French makes were doomed here by inadequate parts and service networks and by anti-French sentiment. It was a sad farewell for those who appreciated their quality and the genius of the French designers.
MORTGAGE STORY MISLEADS
[In the January 14 “Local Matters” section, Kevin Kelley wrote,] “Although regulators say that Vermont’s mortgage market remains stable, some 9000 homeowners in the state were recently told, without explanation, that their mortgages would no longer be handled by Chittenden Bank.”
Why the implication that the sale of mortgages indicates instability? Mortgages are bought and sold across state and national borders all the time, usually because said mortgages are stable.
Why the implication that an explanation is required?
First, any lender has the contractual right to sell the mortgage, with no change in terms or conditions. Second, any homeowner can call either bank for an explanation.
“The switch shows that even Vermont is not immune to the churn in the U.S. banking sector.” “Churn” — not. Buying and selling mortgages is mundane business. “Churning” is buying and selling to generate fees and charges. Not what has happened here.
[Kelley also wrote,] “EverHome is a division of EverBank, an electronic financial firm born in a converted barn in Stowe in 1999; it is now based in Jacksonville, Florida.”
Should Everbank’s humble beginnings horrify us? Dell Computers started in Donald Dell’s college dorm room; Hewlett-Packard in a garage.
Finally, at the end of the article, we read that Vermonters’ mortgages haven’t been sold — just their servicing. Same mail: new postman. Big deal. Not.
As is so often the case in the media, the commonplace has been inflated into the apocalyptic.
AS GO THE FAHC NURSES . . .
Ken Picard’s article “Fletcher Allen Techs Launch Union Drive” [Local Matters, January 21] seemed to be striving to seek a balance, but ended up really distorting the truth. There might not be a better example in recent years of what organizing a union can do to improve a workplace than what the nurses at Fletcher Allen have accomplished. Since they formed a union in 2002, they have improved their working conditions to such a degree that what was a critical nursing shortage has virtually disappeared. The union simply made the hospital a better place to work and the nurses had a way to negotiate safe staffing measures. When they formed a union, there were about 1200 nurses; now there are almost 1700. Hundreds of vacancies were filled, and overall patient care at the hospital has improved dramatically. You don’t have to only ask the union nurses about this; just talk to anybody who works with actual patients and has been around since then.
Now the hospital techs are organizing a union for the same reasons: to improve basic working conditions and address short staffing. Granted, we’re biased at the Workers’ Center; we believe workers deserve rights. But in this case, workers’ rights really do translate into better patient care at our community hospital. Looking at what the nurses’ union has accomplished, this point really should be indisputable. Community support for the hospital techs forming a union is not only important because it’s their right, but also because it will mean better care for our community.
Haslam is the director of the Vermont Workers’ Center.
SACRED OR SECULAR?
For some reason, people think that marriage has to do with the government [“A More Perfect Union?” January 7]. I say the government should split the ties of marriage from their legal standards. Everyone in heterosexual and homosexual relationships should have to get a civil union first, and then the marriage is up to the church or religion. So if anyone wants to get married, it has nothing to do with the government, but if you want to have the financial rewards of marriage, you need to get a civil union. Doesn’t that make sense? This whole thing about fighting for gay marriage is absurd. Gays are getting the financial benefits with the civil unions, so what are they complaining about? If they want to get married, why don’t they start their own church or religion so they can get married without any opposition? As far as I’m concerned, this is their way of separating themselves — and not us keeping them from being the same as everyone else.
During the legislative session, there are many issues to work through. One that will offer both hope and challenge is the continuing discrimination directed at the Vermont families that just happen to be gay [“A More Perfect Union?” January 7].
Our governor supports this discrimination and believes that it’s reasonable to allocate rights, benefits and protections to some families but not to others. I don’t agree with this attitude and I don’t think it’s a good plan for Vermont or any other state.
Our elected representatives were sent to Montpelier to lead, and that’s what they should do: Bring Vermont into the light of real equality, especially at the town clerk’s office.
It is time to vote for equality [“A More Perfect Union?” January 7]. With a simple vote, and without spending a penny, we can make a huge difference in the lives of many Vermont families by voting for full marriage equality for all. The Vermont Commission on Family Recognition and Protection worked hard last year to take testimony from hundreds of Vermonters. The commission prepared a detailed and comprehensive report to serve as a launching pad for the legislature. Much of the heavy lifting is done.
The legislature can build on this foundation to address this issue and, more importantly, to ensure that all Vermonters are treated equally. No newly created law such as civil unions will ever replace the deep social meaning and significant legal rights associated with marriage. Providing civil unions to same-sex couples in Vermont was an important step forward, but they cannot replace the whole host of protections and meaning of marriage. Only marriage is marriage. Vermonters value equality, and it’s time for us to demonstrate this in our marriage laws. Only civil marriage provides all the legal rights for families to protect those they love and care for, including social-security survivor benefits, inheritance-tax protections, and many more important protections and responsibilities.
Civil unions fall short, leaving many Vermonters vulnerable. The sky didn’t fall with civil unions, and it won’t fall with civil marriage. It’s time to move Vermont forward.
STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT GAY MARRIAGE
I’ve been married to the same woman for 25 years. My heart aches for my friends who can’t marry the person they love simply because they happen to have been born gay, unlike me, who was born straight [“A More Perfect Union?” January 7]. It’s past time to end this injustice. I appreciate the fact that Vermont makes a civil union almost like marriage. But separate but equal just doesn’t cut it anymore. Vermont needs to be a leader and extend full, equal marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples as well as straight people. It may be good business for us, but it’s also the right, moral and just thing to do.